Transitioning from Crib to Bed

When a baby becomes a toddler, eventually it comes the time to transition from crib to bed. This time can become a bit scary for a parent and for a child.  There is so much confusion about when is the right time to do this change and how to do it…

So, today I am going to share with you some tips which will help you make this transition easier and will let you feel more confident.

When it comes to the right timing to do the transition, I generally recommend that parents wait at least until 3 years of age. And that is for a good reason…

When a 2-years-old or even younger age child gets introduced to the toddler’s bed, the situation can get really tricky. A younger age child is not yet cognitively ready to understand that he should be staying in that new bed until the morning, and that’s when the night usually becomes an exploration time…

Young kids get out of the bed and end up walking in the room or leaving the room. They play and discover new things during this free time.

Another thing is that the safety of the children gets compromised. Even if you are a baby-proofing expert, the little one can be still put at risk while checking out lamps, plug-ins, chords, or glass items while roaming around.

And the problem with that is that it’s almost impossible to stop this behavior because the child at this age can’t understand and follow any rules yet. It’s just too early for him.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that once the crib rail falls below the child’s chest (when standing in the crib), it’s the right time to transition. And that normally happens once the kid reaches 3 years.

If you are pregnant and you think to introduce your toddler to the big bed at the same time as the new baby arrives, think once again! I strongly recommend you to either introduce the big bed several months before the baby’s arrival or a few months after that so that your bigger child doesn’t feel like being replaced by the new baby. The best is when your toddler can be happy in his new bed before he sees an infant in the crib.

Similarly, avoid introducing a big bed to your child while he is potty-trained or when you are moving to the new place. Your little one doesn’t need to have so many changes around him at the same time.

Tips to Make the Transition from Crib to Bed Easier:


1. Prepare your Child for the Transition

When the time comes to introduce your toddler to the big bed you need to prepare him for it first. So, sit with your child and have a chat about that big change. Let him know why he is getting a big bed and when.  You can explain that he became a big boy and that he can now have a big boy’s bed instead of the crib.

You can mention “the new bed’’ more often to help him get used to this idea more easily. Also, show your excitement about this change to make him excited too! You can mention the names of his cousins or friends who are already sleeping in the big bed or show some books with pictures of kids sleeping in a toddler’s bed.

It’s a great idea to keep the new big bed in the same place where the crib was.

However, if you have two kids who will be sharing the room, move the bed to the new place in the room and keep the crib in the same location.

2. Make the Transition Special

This is a big change for your child, so let it be special…

You can allow your toddler to select new sheets, blankets, pillows and even the bed itself if you want. In fact, the more he gets involved in it, the more he will take ownership of this new responsibility.

You can even allow your smart little man to help you unwrap and assemble the bed once it arrives.

Also, make sure the new bed is cozy. You can use some old items from the crib so that the child feels comfortable in the new sleep place.

3. Create the Rules and Stick to Them

When a toddler gets introduced to the big boy’s bed, usually the first thing he will do is to test the boundaries until he will find some limits. And this is what toddlers can do the best!

Once they discover that being in a big bed gives them more freedom to move around, they start to enjoy that freedom…

Usually, they get out of bed and start playing in their room. Even more often these kids go to their parent’s beds at night and those trips become more frequent and acceptable. This is how the new lasting habit gets created which disrupts everyone’s sleep.

The biggest mistake, however, that I see parents make is believing that the child will outgrow this habit one day… I want you to know that the truth is exactly the opposite. The longer they do it, the stronger the habit becomes. And once a strong habit is created, it can be very difficult to notice it and to eliminate it.

So, I want you to know that it’s not okay for your child to come to your bed a few times every night just because he did this transition.

Please remember that it is your bed and should remain your bed!

What I am trying to say is you need to set some limits and rules once you decide to do this change.

Think about what you will do when your night-explorer starts to walk around or comes to your bed. I suggest you set some limits and consequences of every unwanted action. Make sure your child understands new rules and what is going to happen if he is not following them.

You can also purchase a toddler’s clock that will tell your child when it’s okay to awaken.

Be serious about the consequence because most probably your toddler is going to check how serious you are.

You can always start by giving one warning. And remember the warning should be given only once! This is why it is a warning.

Once one warning was given, and your “boundary-pusher” is still doing his job, the consequence should follow.

So, if you decide to take your child’s lovie away every time he leaves the bed, make sure you really do it!

You don’t need to take it away for the whole night. Start with a few minutes and then increase the time interval if the action keeps repeating.

If taking lovie away doesn’t work, you need to find another consequence which should happen at the same time when your boy decides not to follow you. It can be shutting the door, closing the light, or doing something else right at that time.

Please remember that the consequences done on the next day don’t work! Every action should have a reaction right away.

Once your child notices that limits are set, he will eventually decide that it makes more sense to stay in his new bed and follow the rules. And this is what you want!

You may then reward him with lots of positive acknowledgment. You can praise him and even give him something he likes after sleeping in his bed until the morning. It doesn’t need to be a big thing. It can be a sticker, candy, or a coin.

So, hang on to those cribs for as long as you can. There is no need to move a happily sleeping toddler to the big bed. Once you are sure that the transition is necessary, initiate this change and make it an exciting event for both of you!

Still have questions? King of Sleep is here for you!

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2 thoughts on “Transitioning from Crib to Bed

  1. Jerome Ngugi says:

    Thank you for the tips!
    I especially love the idea of making it a special event and bringing them into it by allowing them to pick out what they want. I bet they are more cooperative this way because they feel that this is ‘their bed’- After all, they chose it.

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